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Friday, May 13, 2005

 

Big Brother in Leicestershire

A good test of one's Liberal instincts is whether one can see the threat behind something that, on the face of it, appears well-meaning.

In today's
E-Government Bulletin, I spotted this story:

Leicestershire Pupils use Fingerprints to Pay for Lunch.

Parents of children at a Leicestershire secondary school will be able to track what food their children are choosing for lunch as a side-benefit of a cashless meal payment system using pupil fingerprint scanning.

Pupils will place their fingertips on a digital pad in the lunch hall which, once registered, links to the pupil's name, address and class. One year-group of children aged between 11 and 14 will be chosen to participate in the trial, which will last four weeks prior to the Summer holidays.

Pupils can top up their account with cash via machines installed in the school or parents can send cheques to the school. Parents will also be able to request itemised food bills and will also be able to apply limitations on their child's account on what they spend on food at breakfast, break or lunch.

"Children will no longer have to carry money around," said Alistair Keates, school manager at Humphrey Perkins School in Loughborough, Leicestershire. "It puts more power in the parents' hands - they'll know children are spending money at school and not at the shops," he said. "And the children are really excited about it."

According to Keates, the fingerprinting system, developed by local firm Cyclone Industries (http://www.cycloneindustries.co.uk/), will also remove any stigma attached to children who receive subsidised school dinners, by making that process invisible.

Other uses of the system are planned for the future. "Once in place, the system could be used for registration and the library," Keates said.
"And the children are really excited about it" ???

Let's hope there are enough grown-ups in Leicestershire sufficiently aware not to share this unwarranted excitement.

Comments:
This sort of thing is scary - even more so because people don't realise it. Or perhaps they're 'reassured' by this shiny new technology.

Still, NooLab are about to force the National Identity Register on us again.

This bloody Government. :|
 
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